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Not so stealthy as we'd first imagined...
January 5, 2010 8:35 PM   Subscribe

Sea Shepherd's new 50-knot biodiesel-powered 'stealth boat' the Ady Gil (formerly the Earthrace, and holder of the speed record for circumnavigation) has been cut in half and sunk after a collision with the Shonan Maru 2, in the annual round of conflict (previously) between conservationists and, erm, 'cetacean researchers'. The crew of six have been rescued and are reportedly uninjured.
posted by pompomtom (155 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Glad no one was killed this time but sooner or later, someone will be. About time all the whale killers gave it up and moved on to something less sentient. Haven't these people seen ST IV: The Voyage Home?
posted by biosystem at 8:52 PM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anyone else see that episode of Whale Wars where they sent a bunch of crew members out to sea in a powerboat, and then the guys in the powerboat decided to not answer the radio for an hour and half and everyone thought they were lost forever? They wouldn't even respond to the helicopter that was flying in circles above them.

And then they simply slowed down and replied on the radio and in a split second everything was okay... and now they've gone ahead and gotten their stealth boat sunken...

I'm all about saving whales but methinks these guys could use whaleloads shitloads more training.
posted by pwally at 8:55 PM on January 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


The worst piece of writing, ever by Shannon Mann.

...
The symphony began slowly with the entry into the off-shore pack ice of the black ship Farley Mowat. Then unexpectedly the Canadian Coast Guard delivered a crashing introduction by slamming a flimsy sealing boat into chunks of ice with reverberations heard across the land. It was music with an evil lethal twist as four sleeping sealers were flung into the frozen brine never to wake again.

The Coast Guard reeled and recoiled into defensive smatterings of excuses, abuses and distractions, looking around desperately for a scapegoat to take the flack. The Coast Guard then performed a bump'em and thump'em rendition of the St. Lawrence two-step tango after rudely and crudely cutting into a slow waltz between the Farley Mowat and a bloody little seal snuffing number called the Cathy Erlene. Overly bold, the red bellied bully boys grazed and fazed the Farley and her crew and stood back in mock indignant shock to proclaim date rape after leaving red smudges on the Farley's black skin.

And before the bodies could be placed in the ground, Captain Watson seized the day in true "carpe diem" style to proclaim that the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seal pups was a far greater tragedy than four of their killers.
...

posted by stavrogin at 9:06 PM on January 5, 2010 [10 favorites]


I agree with the cause and direct action method (and as someone who donates to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society), but there are times when the actions they choose to take have me shaking my head.
posted by Malice at 9:48 PM on January 5, 2010


After seeing that pompous windbag speak, and coming upon one of his abandoned ships in Barkley Sound, I have very little patience for Paul Watson...

But it's very difficult for me not to smile a little inside when they piss of the whalers.
posted by klanawa at 9:51 PM on January 5, 2010


All I can think of when I read stuff like this is that it will be a fine day indeed when the Earth shrugs humankind off like so many chemically-executed fleas. Hopefully this will be long before we've managed to forcibly ram our collective dick into the virgin remainder of the universe and spunked in creation's eye.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:53 PM on January 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


That boat was really over the top. And it doesn't really look like much of a "ramming" boat, actually looks rather delicate.

Was that linked video shot by the Japanese?
posted by delmoi at 9:55 PM on January 5, 2010


I'm all for taking whalers to task by whatever means, but these guys are just plain asshats, and Watson is truly their captain. The episode of Whale Wars where he gets "shot" was the end of the line for me.
posted by Roman Graves at 9:57 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Captain Watson said the Ady Gil was idling in waters near Commonwealth Bay when it was suddenly approached and rammed by the Japanese ship Shonan Maru, which has been detailed to provide security to the fleet.

A million dollar carbon fibre "stealth boat" weighing 16 tons was allegedly ambushed by a 500 ton ship that has a maximum speed of 11 knots? Yeah, I don't think so. While I sympathize with their cause, what I saw on Whale Wars was a group a people so incompetent and so far out of their depth they were a clear hazard to themselves on the open ocean. Their efforts to 'sabotage' the whaling fleet more often ended with one of their vessels in trouble or some of their crew in need of medical attention.
posted by sophist at 9:59 PM on January 5, 2010 [11 favorites]


And it doesn't really look like much of a "ramming" boat, actually looks rather delicate.

Given that the Japanese ship was there to provide 'fleet security', I'm reserving judgement on precisely who's rammed whom (though you'd think they'd have the power to get out of the way).

I'm unaware of the provenance of the video.
posted by pompomtom at 10:01 PM on January 5, 2010


Everything I have to say about Whale Wars has been said, and said better, and said funnier, and said to a soundtrack of Cartman singing Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" in this episode of South Park.

tl;dw: Stan decides that the Whale Wars crew is a bunch of whiny sops. After the untimely death of the captain, Stan takes charge and totally kicks whaler ass.
posted by ErikaB at 10:07 PM on January 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


When in doubt, I side with the party that doesn't try to blind the other guys with laser beams. Also, the Streisand Effect just created an intense desire in me to try some whale meat. It must be very tasty in order for fishermen putting up with being hassled by a bunch of self aggrandizing inept vigilantes.
posted by JeNeSaisQuoi at 10:14 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


My understanding is that, quite to the contrary, most whale meat ends up in Japan's school lunch programs.
posted by ErikaB at 10:22 PM on January 5, 2010


And it doesn't really look like much of a "ramming" boat, actually looks rather delicate.
If you watch the video (which was indeed shot by the whalers) you'll see they're trying to release a rope from the back of the boat. It's easiest to see at around 1:40. The aim is to foul the props or the rudder of the whaler.
posted by GeckoDundee at 10:25 PM on January 5, 2010


Given that the Japanese ship was there to provide 'fleet security', I'm reserving judgement on precisely who's rammed whom (though you'd think they'd have the power to get out of the way).

I thought their whole plan was to ram whaling boats.

Oh man, I was looking at another video shot from the docks up close and I noticed all those circular shapes on the back fins of the boat. And I'm like "are those speakers?" And then I'm like "no, that must just be some pattern". But it turns out yeah, they are. Or were. They also had a jetski modded to match the design of the boat. Seems pretty obvious the boat was pretty much a party/pleasure boat. The video also shows some of the other gear they had.

That thing was ridiculous. What a waste of money.
posted by delmoi at 10:29 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Earlier today, the fleet was contacted for the first time by the Ady Gil and Sea Shepherd's 'secret' third vessel, the Bob Barker."

Yes, that Bob Barker.
posted by mwhybark at 10:30 PM on January 5, 2010


They also just today announced that they had a new ship, the Bob Barker, paid for by a $5 million donation by Barker that was down in the South incognito.

The story I read, Sea Shepherd is claiming that they were stopped in front of the Whalers, and were rammed, and also accusing the whalers of chartering "spy flights" out of Australia to keep track of them. I suspect that this sinking (or something like it) was planned all along by Watson. The ship was NZ registered, it will be interesting to see what steps our government takes to make an official protest.

The ICR (whaler front) has a new video up of stuff happening before the sinking, looking a bit dangerous.

Watson pulls some stupid and dangerous stuff, but if he didn't whaling would not be in the news. He can broaden the overton window by making a much stonger claim, thus making people like greenpeace seem less radical and more acceptable. (Also, if you are going to spray activists with freezing water, the risks of a green laser in your eyes to stop you shooting a whale is fair).
posted by scodger at 10:39 PM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


The story I read, Sea Shepherd is claiming that they were stopped in front of the Whalers, and were rammed, and also accusing the whalers of chartering "spy flights" out of Australia to keep track of them.

Well look. They're flying pirate flags and trying to damage other boats. It's a little ridiculous to whine about countermeasures.
posted by delmoi at 10:44 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damn Japanese. Time for them to join the 21st Century.
posted by chance at 11:15 PM on January 5, 2010


About time for the Royal Australian Navy to start deploying these Star Destroyer ships.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:18 PM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ugh. There's no question in my mind that the Japanese whalers are by far the more repellent party, but those Sea Shepherd guys just seem to be the most halfassed bunch of faux eco-pirates I could possibly envision. I love what they stand for* and are trying to do, but man their execution really sucks.

They obviously have cash to burn; why don't they take the long way home and make some inquiries off the coast of east Africa? I hear there are a lot of highly-motivated seamen in that neck of the woods, ones who probably know a thing or two about harassing large ships from small fastboats.

The worst thing I've seen (this is part of the same incident that pwally descibes) is when they had to radio the whalers and ask if anyone had seen their fastboat. You know you're really a bunch of amateurs when you have to politely call up the people you're attacking and see if they've seen or heard anything from your guys lately.

* If, indeed, it's actually what they stand for, and they're not just a slightly more advanced version of the "recreational protesters" I knew in college. The videos delmoi links to makes me really wonder.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:21 PM on January 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


My understanding is that, quite to the contrary, most whale meat ends up in Japan's school lunch programs.

Maybe thirty years ago, but not anymore. Whale meat was served as school lunch in the years after the war, when it was the only source of cheap protein.

These days, you can buy whale meat at the grocery store, but it's more of a curiosity than anything else (and it's usually dolphin). You can get whale meat at an izakaya or pub, but it seems to be one of those foods that Japanese people use to assert their "Yamato-damashi", or "Japanese spirit."

The newish Ozawa government has talked about removing subsidies to the whaling fleet, so "whale wars" may soon be an endangered species too.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:24 PM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's a little ridiculous to whine about countermeasures.

Seconded. I'm not a fan of whalers, but intentionally hazarding someone else's vessel invites a reaction in kind. I don't see what there would be to whine about if the whalers had defended themselves from the "terrorists" with a 50 cal chain gun and cited USS Cole and "this post-9/11 world." What a shitstorm that would be. (It would also be a terrible PR move, of course, which is what the conservationists are relying on)

Jeez, I bet that would put the Japanese government in a tough spot for the whalers to ask for naval warship protection.
posted by ctmf at 11:32 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


(and it's usually dolphin)

Phew, that's a big relief. Move along, nothing to whinge about here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:33 PM on January 5, 2010


I had a whole comment written out before I'd realised that it had been said much better by PsychoKick here:

Due to the whole idea of "losing face", the Japanese whaling industry (and to a lesser extent, Japan in general) just doesn't play by the same PR rules and expectations that western whale conservationists are used to, and vice versa. So you end up with big high-profile shouting matches and potentially racially offensive protests that pretty much do nothing constructive to advance matters. If anything, they just alienate the two sides even further.

It's great for playing to your base, though, which is why it continues despite its impotence. Japanese nationalists can continue decrying the foreigners who refuse to show respect, and the conservationists can continue keeping their emotional egos and the cause celebre in the limelight. It's win-win situation for everyone except the whales.

---

Given that:
(1) Japan's current large-scale food whaling was actually introduced by General MacArthur after WW2, and could be easily framed as a sign of Japanese weakness instead of Japanese tradition.
(2) Japan is currently experiencing a boom in "green" practices in general, partly tied to Shinto animistic traditions (as well as the usual practical reasons that living on a resource-poor island entail).
(3) Most Japanese really don't give a crap about eating whale anyway.

It would be straightforward enough to formulate strategies to halt whaling that don't require that the Japanese give in and "lose face" to foreign demands. But such strategies go contrary to what the whale conservation movement is used to. The movement is accustomed to adopting a directly confrontational hostile warfare mentality that "teaches those dirty whale-killers a lesson" through highly visible PR spectacles and emotionally-charged public shaming rituals.

In short, the whale conservation movement currently works mainly through "face-destroying" tactics, and the Japanese will never ever cooperate with that, even if they are sympathetic to the idea of environmental conservation in general.

posted by twirlypen at 11:36 PM on January 5, 2010 [23 favorites]


I don't know, if you're hunting whales on an industrial scale and don't actually want the meat, I'm not sure what face you have to save.
posted by zippy at 12:06 AM on January 6, 2010


Bono of the seas!
posted by Artw at 12:20 AM on January 6, 2010


Yeah, but if they stop the whaling, then they won't be able to get millionaires to chip in million dollar boats with kickin' sound systems and integrated jetskis.
posted by delmoi at 12:24 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hooray for charismatic megafauna, the idiots who hunt them, and the idiots who chase after the idiots who hunt them.

Honestly, the whales are the sharpest tacks in the whole sorry scenario.
posted by killdevil at 12:39 AM on January 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not necessarily. For all you know, those humpback whales' songs - so elusive to our interpretation - might just be them singing to each other "My humps, my humps, my lovely whale lumps"
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:53 AM on January 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


The video is out, anyone who knows about naval right of way etc care to comment?
posted by scodger at 1:00 AM on January 6, 2010


I can't help but feel deep and sincere admiration for all the internet tough guys dissing the Sea Shepherds. Untrained and inexperienced as they are, they are out there actually doing something about whaling, while you're sitting on the sideline snarking like true heroes. You guys are the coolest ever. I bet you even know kung fu.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:13 AM on January 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


scodger: ships do not have right of way (much like cars, where I live). They often have an obligation to give way. In the case on the video, the Japanese vessel was obliged to give way (as they could view the port (red) light on the Ady Gil).

Of course, both vessels have an obligation to avoid collision.
posted by pompomtom at 1:40 AM on January 6, 2010


I bet you even know kung fu.
Well, no. But I've seen it, and I do know when it's being done wrong.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:46 AM on January 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


KokuRyu, the whale still comes up in school lunches from time to time.

By the way, that video is running on the news here in Japan. They only showed it once before cutting away to some piglet that got loose on the expressway. I didn't catch any commentary about it.
posted by donkeymon at 1:46 AM on January 6, 2010


(also it seems to me that the Japanese vessel is steering fairly solidly to starboard....)
posted by pompomtom at 1:48 AM on January 6, 2010


Looking at the Video from the Japanese ship the Ady Gil seems to be almost stationary in the water, as the vessel under power it's my understanding that the Japanese vessel is the one required make a course alteration.

It's certainly pretty extreme.

A friend of mine (who filmed with Earthrace) was offered a very significant amount of money to shoot with Sea Shepherd this time around - it was largely danger money he said - I see why. He didn't do it.
posted by sycophant at 1:48 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


As an aside, can anyone translate what the Japanese guys are saying in that video after the collision?
posted by sycophant at 1:50 AM on January 6, 2010


scodger:
It's not as simple as rear-ending a car or running a red light. On the open sea the boat to starboard technically has the right of way but both captains are obliged to do all they can to avoid collision. When these things are adjucated, maneuverability and other factors are sensibly considered as well. It gets a lot more detailed when you get closer to land and shipping channels etc. are involved. I'm confident the Ady Gil will be ruled at fault. And I note that they placed themselves in the starboard position.

(That's what I remember from a few years of competitive sailing anyway. (Where violations of right of way and navigation laws result in penalties, or maybe you know, dying.))
posted by vapidave at 1:50 AM on January 6, 2010


Wow, so far a bunch of truly weakass comments, unless of course they're coming from people who have expertise in the area of southern whaleboat harrassment. What a sad collection.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 1:56 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


After watching the video a few times, it looks like the Japanese ship didn't take any evasive measures, but that at about 16 secs in, the Ady Gil turns on its engines. The zoom from the camera makes it hard to see what each ships bearings are, Sea Shepherd claim to have video from the Bob Barker, it would be interesting to see how it looks from their view.

Thanks for the info on the right of way stuff, what happens after a crash like this, is there a mandated investigation, or does it need to go through civil courts? Is it Australias jurisdiction as it happened in their Antarctic waters?
posted by scodger at 2:00 AM on January 6, 2010


The parting shot by the hose was kind of a dick move too.
posted by scodger at 2:01 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The vessel is New Zealand registered, so it'll be interesting to see if the NZ authorities have anything to say about it.

Depending on the precise location it seems it could be in either Australian or French Antarctic territory.

Given that Pete Bethuen devoted years of his life to building the boat it is very hard to believe he would deliberate scuttle it (which is what ramming a larger vessel would be for a lightweight fibreglass vessel).
posted by sycophant at 2:18 AM on January 6, 2010


it looks like the Japanese ship didn't take any evasive measures, but that at about 16 secs in, the Ady Gil turns on its engines

That's what looks dodgy to me.

It seems to me that the Shonan Maru is deliberately steering into the Ady Gil, which is hardly moving, if at all, and I'd place fault squarely with the whalers. Then, at the last minute, the Ady Gil accelerates, which is stupid on a number of levels.
posted by pompomtom at 2:19 AM on January 6, 2010


The vessel is New Zealand registered, so it'll be interesting to see if the NZ authorities have anything to say about it.

Depending on the precise location it seems it could be in [...] French Antarctic territory.


Good luck with that, bro.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:48 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another angle of the collision has be posted.

To my eye it looks as if the Ady Gil is barely moving and the Japanese vessel clearly turns toward it immediately before the collision.

As reckless as Sea Shepherd have been in the past, this incident seems squarely on the shoulders of the Japanese vessel. I'm pretty certain they could have altered course to avoid the smaller vessel, and more than that, they appear to have deliberate targeted the Ady Gil.
posted by sycophant at 3:07 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


also, looking at the Earthrace site:

You are visitor number
3,204,045


what? more than three million people look up the site of some boat? is that the entire population of new zealand? has anybody else ever heard of this vessel before now? (honest question)

gotta say, though - their "where is Earthrace? Click here" link didn't take me to where i expected.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:07 AM on January 6, 2010


A Sea Shepherd ship went down...? Oh what a shame...

Really. I'm heart-broken.
posted by twine42 at 3:12 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually... I do feel a very small twinge... She was a good looking boat.
posted by twine42 at 3:15 AM on January 6, 2010


Japanese video has been removed from YouTube for 'Terms Violation' - I have reposted it with required attribution here
posted by sycophant at 3:21 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's what the guy is saying:

"Okay, we're gonna zoom in a little here. I'll zoom in a little.

"Hey, contact was just made. (The Japanese was in a passive form which doesn't state who impacted whom.)

"Contact was made with the front of the A.G.

"The front of the A.G. came out and hit us.

"It interfered in the path (of our boat)..."
posted by donkeymon at 4:16 AM on January 6, 2010


> The parting shot by the hose was kind of a dick move too.

It doesn't look to me like the hose is being actively aimed at that point and the stream just passed over the boat as the ship moved past.
posted by adamt at 4:29 AM on January 6, 2010


His nose totally got in the way of my fist.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:33 AM on January 6, 2010


The Japanese aren't the only bad guys out there; the Norwegians and Russians are still killing whales as well.

If you haven't already read it, pick up a copy of Leviathan or The Whale, by Philip Hoare.

As for getting in the way of whalers, there may be asshats out there, but at least they're actually doing something, so I would cut them at least some slack.

Sure, they could do it better, but if nothing else this story causes more people in whaling countries to object and perhaps bring the entire sorry industry to its end. You know, before human beings bring the whale to its end.

For some species it may already be too late.
posted by bwg at 4:46 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, this video demonstrates the cruelty of modern whaling.
posted by bwg at 4:51 AM on January 6, 2010


Wouldn't a "stealth" ship be more effective for sneaking scuba divers into port, where they might, you know, actually sabotage whaling vessels?

Of course, then they would actually be subject to Japanese law.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 5:21 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmm.

On one side, we have some people trying to stop the industrial harvest of smart, interesting, endangered species to collect meat that is not needed to feed the people eating it.

On the other side, we have a big industry trying to protect its profits, a "You're not the boss of me!" response to international condemnation, and right-wing nationalistic politicians dishonestly claiming that the hunt is scientific and necessary and that the ICR is not simply a front for commercial whaling.

How will I ever choose a side?
posted by pracowity at 5:23 AM on January 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Wouldn't a "stealth" ship be more effective for sneaking scuba divers into port, where they might, you know, actually sabotage whaling vessels?

The effect intended is a filmed confrontation between an environmental David standing up to an industrial/nationalist Goliath. If Sea Shepherd people start acting like the French government bombers who sent Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior to the bottom and killed a photographer, they will lose.
posted by pracowity at 5:33 AM on January 6, 2010


So from what I've found on Wikipedia, it looks like the "scientific research" is being done on species of whale that are not at all endangered.

It may be a front, but I don't really see any conservation arguments that can be made against the Japanese here. Am I wrong on this? The Norwegians have also appealed the moratorium on Minke whaling.

If the arguments aren't based on the stress they're putting on the populations, then there's a whole slew of hunting that's going on that is just as bad. It just seems like the anti-whaling people are leveraging the anthropomorphizing of whales in the West to advocate for hunting restrictions that most people wouldn't support on land.
posted by FuManchu at 5:39 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


one douchebag trashed another douchebags ride. what is this, a mall parking lot?
posted by krautland at 5:51 AM on January 6, 2010


Sure, they could do it better, but if nothing else this story causes more people in whaling countries to object and perhaps bring the entire sorry industry to its end.

I don't recall the Japanese historically being that outraged about people making futile and suicidal charges into larger ships.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:53 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was music with an evil lethal twist as four sleeping sealers were flung into the frozen brine never to wake again.

This sentence is terrorism.
posted by kid ichorous at 6:12 AM on January 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Pwally, I saw that episode 2x and I think that captain is incredibly reckless with near-negligent disregard for his crew.

The Simpson's comic-book-store-guy-turned-whaling-interceptor-captain. He really grinds my gears.
posted by toastchee at 6:13 AM on January 6, 2010


It's all kind of like blaming the locomotive when you ignore the flashing lights and roll your sports car onto the track at a level crossing. If you're willing to trade off your new wheels for the publicity that will attend the collision, that's your choice, but it seems a pretty poor return on investment from where I sit. Were I a potential donor, I'd also think twice about giving anything -- including cash -- to Watson's band of risk-takers. Greenpeace at least sails to the side when they sail close.
posted by Mike D at 6:18 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


It may be a front, but I don't really see any conservation arguments that can be made against the Japanese here.

I think the goal is to keep the pressure on the entire whaling industry and make sure whale meat in general is something decent people don't eat. If people believe it's OK to hunt, butcher, sell, and eat some kinds of whales and some numbers of whales, that keeps the whalers in operation and makes it more likely that they eventually will expand to take larger catches and more varieties.

Remember that industrial whalers and pork barrel politicians are always pushing for expanded whaling. If someone doesn't push back, easy money will trump everything else. Look at what fishing trawlers are doing to fish populations worldwide because there hasn't been enough pressure on the fishing industry to cut back.
posted by pracowity at 6:20 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Another angle of the collision has be posted.

Here's what the guy is saying in that video:

Whoah.

Whoah!

Whoah.

Whoah!!
posted by smackfu at 6:21 AM on January 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Japanese aren't the only bad guys out there; the Norwegians and Russians are still killing whales as well.

Norwegian whalers hunt Minke whales, which are nowhere near extinction (they're classified under Least Concern on the IUCN Red List). And at least they don't pretend that it is for scientific purposes.
posted by Bukvoed at 6:27 AM on January 6, 2010


between conservationists and, erm, 'cetacean researchers

Yes, science is a full contact sport...
posted by Naberius at 6:29 AM on January 6, 2010


Norwegian whalers hunt Minke whales, which are nowhere near extinction (they're classified under Least Concern on the IUCN Red List). And at least they don't pretend that it is for scientific purposes.

The Japanese hunt the same whales.
posted by FuManchu at 6:33 AM on January 6, 2010


Sea Shepherd tend to use Hobart as their port during the southern whaling season, so the Steve Irwin is a common sight, but I missed the Ady Gil when it was down at the docks a few weeks ago. It's a shame, it looked like an interesting boat.
posted by Jimbob at 6:41 AM on January 6, 2010


He can broaden the overton window...

The overton window seems to be getting a lot of play on MetaFilter lately, to excuse all sorts of idiocy. It's getting pretty tired.
posted by mpbx at 6:43 AM on January 6, 2010


Man, Cobra Commander is going to be *pissed* the Japanese sunk his boat.
posted by electroboy at 6:51 AM on January 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


After watching the video a few times, it looks like the Japanese ship didn't take any evasive measures, but that at about 16 secs in, the Ady Gil turns on its engines. The zoom from the camera makes it hard to see what each ships bearings are, Sea Shepherd claim to have video from the Bob Barker, it would be interesting to see how it looks from their view.

I agree that the Ady Gill is clearly accelerating at around 16 seconds in, and just as clearly not turning. From the very beginning, though, you can see that the AG is making a few knots of headway. Since the AG lots just the very tip of its bow, it seems like they were making every effort to collide with the Japanese ship.

At the very end, it looks like the AG is moving very fast in reverse. If they really wanted to avoid the Japanese ship, it seems clear that they could have done so.

Thanks for the info on the right of way stuff, what happens after a crash like this, is there a mandated investigation, or does it need to go through civil courts? Is it Australias jurisdiction as it happened in their Antarctic waters?

IIRC, in the US, all pleasure boats have to give right of way to all commercial vessels. Generally, the more maneuverable boat has to give way to the less agile boat. I'm not sure if the starboard boat has right of way outside of sailing, or even yacht racing though. The Sea Shepherds have clearly set out with the intent to be a hazard to navigation, so I doubt they will be able to find any legal recourse.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:57 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just looked her up, and our rather humorous note says lists the Ady Gil's status as, "existence in doubt."

Also, FWIW, the Bob Barker is a 1950 built trawler who'd probably cost more to steam to the breakers than her scrap value.
posted by digitalprimate at 7:06 AM on January 6, 2010


The overton window seems to be getting a lot of play on MetaFilter lately

Confirmation bias.
posted by pracowity at 7:10 AM on January 6, 2010


Yeah, I don't think these guys were really trying to do anything other than stage a collision here. I sympathize with the cause, but not with the destruction of such lovely marine hardware. Give me a boat that does 50 knots with a zillion-mile range and I will vex the crap out of these scientists, believe you me. Also, I will have oodles of fun. And I will make better videos.
posted by Mister_A at 7:12 AM on January 6, 2010


Also, I recommend this book to the crew of the ill-fated Batboat. It is the pre-eminent work in the field of avoiding huge ships.
posted by Mister_A at 7:14 AM on January 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Both of the ships are somewhat at fault. As one the rules of the road for navigation says,

"Ever vessel shall at all times take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped with a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions."

It's rare that either vessels are ever exonerated when a collision actually occurred (as there is always something that one ship or the other could have done), so it would be mostly like that both ships will be found partially at fault. Of course, trying ram your ship or get in the way of the ship would invalidate some of the measures that other ship can take to avoid collision, so I guess we'll just see. But I doubt either party will be found legally faultless.

On another note. . . I can understand the desire to stop Japanese whaling. I've seen The Cove like everyone else, and my heart goes out to those independant actors which risk much to bring down a corrupt system. But the entire point about things like this is to look like you're the good guy and they're the bad guy. As someone said, this is a public relations battle, not a military battle. If this is your goal, why would you allow yourself to look like incompetent boobs to the whole world? However pure your intentions, if you jump on a aquatic vessel and act like these guys, it does not reflect well on you. They're behavior as far as seamanship, communication, planning, and leadership just spells out, "I'm making this up as I go along."
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:15 AM on January 6, 2010


Jimmy Havok: "I can't help but feel deep and sincere admiration for all the internet tough guys dissing the Sea Shepherds. Untrained and inexperienced as they are, they are out there actually doing something about whaling..."

I'm not sure who your snark was directed at, but I don't think it's out of line to point out the disconnect between the image that these guys have created for themselves, one of no-holds-barred direct action, a sort of IRA-for-the-whales, with the reality, as documented in what amounts to their own propaganda on the Discovery Channel — without question probably the most friendly press venue they're going to get. And that seems to be the basis of the major criticism.

Assuming that the sort of direct action that they're doing actually is productive, in terms of curtailing whaling (and I think the jury is still out on that one, although I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt), what they're doing is better than nothing but it's still unfortunate — for the whales — that it's apparently the best we can muster.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:17 AM on January 6, 2010


Having seen more videos, I revise my opinion about what happened. It appears that the Ady Gil is sitting idle in the water - possibly because the LRAD is clearly being pointed at them. The Japanese ship then makes a sharp turn toward the boat, effectively ramming it. As they pass on by, as if for extra measure, they blast the Ady Gil with water cannons.

It doesn't at all appear as if it were staged by Paul Watson as someone suggested above, and they didn't appear incompetent. More-so, they looked stunned (by the LRAD).
posted by Malice at 7:23 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


If they really loved the whales they wouldn't be concerned with playing by the law. That's always been my stance - these Sea Shepherd yahoos need to get in there and do some good old-fashioned direct-action law breakin'.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:29 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


If your career is devoted to going out into international waters and harassing other boats, you have to expect that someday there's gonna be retaliation. Watching that video everyone on the ocean was being really fucking stupid, it's lucky some human didn't get killed. Screw the whales.

It's not as crazy as French commandos sneaking into Auckland harbour and blowing up a boat, though.
posted by Nelson at 7:43 AM on January 6, 2010


I saw the EarthRace in it's prior existence as a record-breaker when it was doing a tour prior to the first attempt. Beautiful boat in person, shame it's now only so many pieces of carbon fibre.
posted by arcticseal at 7:50 AM on January 6, 2010


arcticseal made me think of this.
posted by Mister_A at 7:58 AM on January 6, 2010


I can understand the desire to stop Japanese whaling. I've seen The Cove like everyone else, and my heart goes out to those independant actors which risk much to bring down a corrupt system.

An amazing documentary Note: autoplay video. I recommend it highly.
posted by ericb at 8:06 AM on January 6, 2010


When you have a relatively fragile, record breaking boat with 1/2 million dollar spars (and presumably, therefore, worth several multiples of that) and you put it in the hands of Sea Shepherd, who the hell insures your boat, and how much do they charge to do so?

It's got to be like aiming a rocket sled at a brick wall and trying to convince Lloyds that you'll only need to claim if the wall doesn't wove out of your way.

Do sea going vessels need insurance by law...?
posted by twine42 at 8:09 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


These days, you can buy whale meat at the grocery store, but it's more of a curiosity than anything else (and it's usually dolphin).

And in the film 'The Cove' you learn that dolphin meat contains high levels of mercury -- " on average 5 times the maximum allowable level."
posted by ericb at 8:13 AM on January 6, 2010


In related news: Scientists say dolphins should be treated as 'non-human persons'.
posted by ericb at 8:15 AM on January 6, 2010


It is lucky no people were hurt or killed, but I want to be more specific about that. It's lucky no one on the Ady Gil was hurt or killed. It is abundantly clear that no one on the Japanese whaling boat was in any danger whatsoever from this collision, or from any other activity of the Ady Gil.

Yes, the folks from Sea Shepherd went out there to provoke a confrontation, and yes, they did so. Good for them. Can you watch that video and not understand that the Japanese whalers decided (or at the very least allowed their vessel) to ram the Ady Gil, with no regard for the lives of the people onboard? For the sake of hunting an animal that doesn't need to be hunted, to feed people who don't need or, for the most part, even want the meat?

Fuck whalers. I went into this thread thinking more or less "all's fair on the high seas." But I come out of it thinking fuck whalers. Those people on the Ady Gil are ballsier than I'll ever be, and I admire their dedication, and hope this helps their cause.

(Also: Fuck whalers. Seriously.)
posted by rusty at 8:16 AM on January 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm not for whaling or anything, but dude ...

Protest boat sunk

The ICR said the Ady Gil came "within collision distance" directly in front of the Nisshin Maru bow and repeatedly deployed a rope from its stern "to entangle the Japanese vessel's rudder and propeller".

The statement accused the activists of shining a laser device at the Nisshin Maru crew and launching acid-filled projectiles, one of which landed on the vessel's deck.

After broadcasting a warning message, the Nisshin Maru sprayed the Ady Gil with water cannons to prevent it from coming closer, the ICR said.

Captain Watson told Fairfax in November the Ady Gil would be used to intercept the whaling fleet's chaser boats.

"What I think we can do is latch onto at least one of the three harpoon vessels and keep them out of the picture," he said.

posted by Comrade_robot at 8:22 AM on January 6, 2010


Did anyone else watch the video delmoi linked with the guy explaining the Ady Gil's systems? At about 2:55 he explains their plan to "wakeboard alongside the evil Nisshin Maru in the southern ocean. Which will be quite cool."

I don't think saving the whales is their first goal. Looks like it's down around five or six.
posted by echo target at 8:25 AM on January 6, 2010


I don't think saving the whales is their first goal. Looks like it's down around five or six.

I'd say it's no worse than second. And doing good does not exclude having fun. People do their best work when they love what they're doing. If what gets you to Africa is a chance to see the gorillas and get a world-class sun tan, and you also help feed starving children and distribute mosquito nets in malarial areas while you're there, I say go get that tan and see those gorillas.
posted by pracowity at 8:58 AM on January 6, 2010


All things considered, I'm honestly a bit surprised that the opposition to whaling has been largely obstruction based. Considering how heated some feel about the issue, it's remarkable that more whaling ships aren't actually attacked directly;

Even using tactics which try to minimize human casualties like; "You have twenty mintues to abandon ship before we put torpedos in the water..."

That would force any whaling fleet to require some sort of combat naval assistance which would change the economic dynamics of the whole situation. (It would also get bloody and ugly quickly, I imagine.)
posted by quin at 9:09 AM on January 6, 2010


I think torpedoes are kind of a controlled substance as it were...
posted by Mister_A at 9:23 AM on January 6, 2010


I've watched both videos a number of times and I still think the Ady Gil was sitting virtually idle for quite a while, it started to apply thrust shortly before the collision, but only just and still wasn't moving very fast. The Sea Shepherd from the Bob Barker makes if very clear that the Japanese ship turned quite hard to starboard and bore down on the Ady Gil immediately before the collision, and after impact turns hard to starboard to clear, showing that they clearly had the manouverability to avoid the smaller vessel in the first place.

I think the Japanese were clearly at fault in this incident, and I hardly think shining a laser pointer, attempting to foul a prop or launching stink bombs is reasonable provocation for what is virtually attempted murder.

That said, Sea Shepherd has attempted to deliberately damage the Japanese vessels in the past - although usually with a vessel that was of similar size, rather than one that stands absolutely no chance against a whaling ship.
posted by sycophant at 9:28 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's always been my stance - these Sea Shepherd yahoos need to get in there and do some good old-fashioned direct-action law breakin'.

Wait right there at your office. I'll swing by your house this afternoon and steal your television. You know, to strike back at The Man.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:36 AM on January 6, 2010


sycophant's second video link clearly shows the Japanese ship change course in order to ram the smaller vessel. You can also see that the small ship is not moving when the Japanese ship turn towards it. This is obvious by the fact that the Japanese ship is rising and falling as it crosses the waves, while the small ship isn't.

I'm guessing the guys on the small boat realized what was about to happen and might have tried to get under way, explaining their small forward motion right before the impact. Regardless of the past ineptitude of the anti-whalers, that must have been a pretty terrifying moment to realize you're about to be hit in arctic waters by a massive ship.
posted by jsonic at 10:36 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it true that Captain Watson is as much a qualified nautical captain as I am - eg not at all?
posted by A189Nut at 10:39 AM on January 6, 2010


Just because I can, I made a Split Screen Video
posted by sycophant at 10:43 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is obvious by the fact that the Japanese ship is rising and falling as it crosses the waves, while the small ship isn't.

While I agree with your assessment of what happened, the design of the Ady Gil is such that it cuts through the waves instead of going over them, allowing it to go much faster in heavy seas. Were it underway, it would not be rising and falling anywhere near as much as the Japanese ship.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 10:47 AM on January 6, 2010


And his second link also shows the AG accelerating into the path of the Japanese ship more clearly. The Japanese ship did turn towards it, but looks like it would have brushed past it had there been no other movement. It looked like a threatening pass by the Shonan Maru 2 (precipitated by a threatening encroachment by the Ady Gil), that turned disastrous by a bad split second decision by the Ady Gil. I just don't how anyone can take one side over the other in this case.
posted by FuManchu at 10:48 AM on January 6, 2010


I just don't how anyone can take one side over the other in this case.

Agreed.

I wonder what kind of self-defense rights the Japanese ship has. If the A.G. had been trying to prop-foul it prior to this incident, and the Japanese ship couldn't outrun the A.G., then it would seem the Japanese ship has the right to defend itself in order to avoid being disabled in the arctic ocean.
posted by jsonic at 10:56 AM on January 6, 2010


So, what happens when the anti-whaling guys do something to the whalers that accidentally kills the whalers? Ramming a ship can lead to all sorts of nastiness. Prop-fouling in a storm could lead to a ship being capsized by waves.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:05 AM on January 6, 2010


This shit never happened to Batman when he was fighting the penguin with that thing.
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on January 6, 2010


I'd like to research a cetacean.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:15 AM on January 6, 2010


quin: Even using tactics which try to minimize human casualties like; "You have twenty mintues to abandon ship before we put torpedos in the water..."

Hmm, sounds quite similar to the IRA tactics. One persons terrorist is anothers freedom fighter I suppose, or should we call it law breakin' to make it sound more folksy and nice.
posted by Static Vagabond at 11:28 AM on January 6, 2010


...then it would seem the Japanese ship has the right to defend itself in order to avoid being disabled in the arctic ocean.

Or they could, I dunno... stop whaling?
posted by rusty at 11:49 AM on January 6, 2010


I agree that the Ady Gill is clearly accelerating at around 16 seconds in, and just as clearly not turning. From the very beginning, though, you can see that the AG is making a few knots of headway. Since the AG lots just the very tip of its bow, it seems like they were making every effort to collide with the Japanese ship.

At the very end, it looks like the AG is moving very fast in reverse. If they really wanted to avoid the Japanese ship, it seems clear that they could have done so.


You know they're on the Ocean right? Where things float around and move around? Moving backward could be recoil from the ship.

They're lucky they didn't get hit a few meters back; it probably would have killed all of them.
posted by delmoi at 12:09 PM on January 6, 2010


Using lasers to blind people is banned by the Inhumane Weapons Convention (even the US goes a long with it). I think the whale people are crossing a line using lasers in an attempt to blind people, they might as well use actual guns - neither side has the high ground here.
posted by thylacine at 12:18 PM on January 6, 2010


I created a Split Screen Video with both angles of the collision. Not sure if it helps at all :)
posted by sycophant at 12:41 PM on January 6, 2010


Sorry I double posted that link as I thought the first one had failed when I had to go away for a while.
posted by sycophant at 12:45 PM on January 6, 2010


P.S. It wasn't sunk. Rammed boat hoped to be salvaged:
The Ady Gil remained afloat, allowing the six crew members to salvage valuable equipment before being picked up by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Bob Barker. De Groot says the team is now working to salvage the multi-million protest boat, which is tied to the Bob Barker.
posted by smackfu at 12:47 PM on January 6, 2010


it would seem the Japanese ship has the right to defend itself in order to avoid being disabled in the arctic ocean.

The Shonan Maru 2 is a 500-ton steel whaling ship that presumably sticks pretty close to the 8,000-ton Nisshin Maru factory ship it is escorting. The Ady Gil is (was?) about 16 tons of plastic and much more Keystone Kops than Batman. It just snapped in half when the two collided.

The whalers were not exactly fearing for their lives. Their corporation lawyers will make such claims, of course, but be honest: if you were one of the whalers and fully aware that the guys down in that little boat were Sea Shepherd, would you be peeing in your boots about the big, bad attackers?
posted by pracowity at 12:49 PM on January 6, 2010


I don't think there is anything wrong with hunting those species of whale that are not seriously endangered (such as minke whales).

Sure, they're intelligent and all, but then so are dolphins, err, pigs.

Incidentally, whale meat is overrated.
posted by sour cream at 1:02 PM on January 6, 2010


if you were one of the whalers and fully aware that the guys down in that little boat were Sea Shepherd, would you be peeing in your boots about the big, bad attackers?

Not if I had ever seen the show on Discovery...
posted by Pantengliopoli at 1:27 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


but be honest: if you were one of the whalers and fully aware that the guys down in that little boat were Sea Shepherd, would you be peeing in your boots about the big, bad attackers?

From a ship-ramming perspective, the Japanese have very little to fear. However, from watching the show, I think the prop-fouler actually crosses the line (when it works, that is). If it disables the rudder or props on the Japanese ship, in arctic waters, that could be a very deadly situation if a storm comes up. So in that case, I think the Japanese ship is justified in being worried.

Of course, defending oneself by ramming another ship in the arctic might not be the best idea for the safety of one's props or rudders either.
posted by jsonic at 2:17 PM on January 6, 2010


Or they could, I dunno... stop whaling?

That's like saying, instead of getting me to stop punching you in the face, we should first get you to stop standing in front of my fist.

but be honest: if you were one of the whalers and fully aware that the guys down in that little boat were Sea Shepherd, would you be peeing in your boots about the big, bad attackers?

And that's like saying you shouldn't take steps to defend yourself from a mugger in an alley because he's shorter than you and you shouldn't have anything to worry about.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:53 PM on January 6, 2010


Not a mugger. A little yappy dog. And you're wearing big leather boots, so you aren't going to be bitten. A measured defense against this noisy chihuahua running underfoot would not be to kick it across the alley so hard that you break its ribs and leave it lying in a heap.
posted by pracowity at 3:30 PM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Norwegian whalers hunt Minke whales, which are nowhere near extinction ...

That doesn't make it okay.

The other whale species weren't near extinction either until mankind started killing them in vast quantities.
posted by bwg at 3:43 PM on January 6, 2010


Why isn't it okay? What makes whales special that we shouldn't hunt them, compared to something like a tuna or a swordfish?
posted by smackfu at 3:57 PM on January 6, 2010


Why isn't it okay? What makes whales special that we shouldn't hunt them, compared to something like a tuna or a swordfish?

Whales are eaten by people who are not like us and we don't eat whales. Don't you see how wrong that is?
posted by JeNeSaisQuoi at 4:10 PM on January 6, 2010


Why isn't it okay? What makes whales special that we shouldn't hunt them, compared to something like a tuna or a swordfish?

Rarity plus intellect, divided by tastiness squared.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:48 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whale would actually be better meat for us, at least from the point of view of heavy metals & other crap.

Tuna & swordfish are up high on the food chain, and ingest the pollutants that smaller fish ingest from still-smaller fishies etc, whereas whales remain relatively pure, feeding mostly on plankton & krill (killer whales being the only exception, AFAIK)
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:14 PM on January 6, 2010


(killer whales being the only exception, AFAIK)

Killer whales aren't the only kind of toothed whales.

Minke whales are krill-eating baleen whales.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:30 PM on January 6, 2010


what they're doing is better than nothing but it's still unfortunate — for the whales — that it's apparently the best we can muster.

Meanwhile, the internet tough guys snarking on the sideline are doing less than nothing. I agree that the Sea Shepherd TV show gives a strong impression of incompetence, but you have to remember that they're trying to make a TV show, and so there has to be drama. A lot of the drama on the show is cooked up, like the argument last year about whether to throw a grappling hook into the whaler's protective net.

They are feeling their way, and there's fresh crew every trip, so it's not surprising they have problems. You have problems on ships that are crewed by experienced, paid professionals. Just watch an episode of The Most Dangerous Catch.

It's not covered in Whale Wars, but the government of Ecuador has actually deputized Sea Shepherd to protect the Galapagos Islands, and they apparently are doing a good job of it.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 6:35 PM on January 6, 2010


The crew of the larger Sea Shepherd boats are certainly a little 'inexperienced', but the Ady Gil had a much smaller crew of people who know their stuff.

Granted the prop foulers are dangerous (although none of the targeted vessels operated alone, they could be supported by other fleet vessels if necessary - as Ady Gil was by the Bob Barker in this case).

I didn't see the last series of Whale Wars, but I've read about them - do their prop foulers ever actually work? I don't recall any success. And the rest, stink bombs and lasers are hardly endangering life let alone virtually assuring the sinking of the targeted vessel.

Their can opener thing from a couple of seasons ago was pretty extreme, but even that was designed to hole the target ship well above the water line, very unlikely to endanger lives... Any I don't think that worked either.
posted by sycophant at 6:58 PM on January 6, 2010


If this goes to court I think the most compelling evidence of intent on the part of the whaling ship's captain and crew is where the crew continues to spray a firehose at the boat after the collision - the bow of that ship is gone, no one yet knows if it's going to stay afloat, and they're still blasting it.
posted by zippy at 8:36 PM on January 6, 2010


smackfu: "120Why isn't it okay? What makes whales special that we shouldn't hunt them, compared to something like a tuna or a swordfish?"

Well, first of all you're making the assumption that those of us who are against eating whale are okay with eating tuna or swordfish, which is not unilaterally correct by any means.
posted by bettafish at 8:53 PM on January 6, 2010


If this goes to court

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has been directed by the government to investigate a collision between a Japanese whaling ship and protesters. [warning: embedded autoplay video]

Within the article, we find this gem:

Mr Watson, asked if the environmental group would press charges against the whalers, he said "there's no law down here, there's no way to bring charges against anybody".

"Japan does what it wants, where it wants. They're killing these whales in violation of international law".


Whatever you say about the man, logic isn't his strong suit.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:25 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


warning: embedded autoplay video
It doesn't have to if you don't want it to.

You're being a bit unfair on Watson. I take him to be saying that the only law that holds there is international law and that there's nobody to enforce it. There needn't be any lack of logic. Technically he could try to bring an action in Australian law as the incident occurred in Australian waters, but the Federal Government has shown how weak it is on this matter.
posted by GeckoDundee at 10:43 PM on January 6, 2010


Prop fouling, if it were to be successful, would disable the ship. Now, in the videos it looks like the 'sea-state' is pretty calm but that could change in the space of an hour. Without being able to get underway (such as if it has a fouled propeller), you reduce the chance of a boat being able to safely navigate. The boat could be pushed broad-side to the waves, and then rolled and sunk. You could, if the weather got bad enough and the waves high enough be responsible for sinking the boat and probably killing some number of the crew.

Personally, as much as I might feel that the hunting of cetaceans is not so desirable, I would not want the deaths of a bunch of people on my conscience over it. There are far more effective ways of getting it done.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:15 AM on January 7, 2010


Why isn't it okay? What makes whales special that we shouldn't hunt them, compared to something like a tuna or a swordfish?

To quote Spock: "To hunt a species to extinction is not logical."

What makes whales special is that they are complex beings whose secrets we have not yet begun to learn; they may well be critical to our own species' long-term survival in some way we do not yet know. It's the same idea as killing off the rain forests of the world; I expect that's going to bite us all in the ass at some point.

Just because human beings can kill them doesn't mean we ought to.

The down side to being self-aware, intelligent beings is that humans have also become incredibly arrogant.
posted by bwg at 1:21 AM on January 7, 2010


It's amazing how quickly everyone seems to forget the ridiculous ramming of the Japanese ships by the Steve Irwin last year. Or the butyric acid fiasco. Sea Shepherd is not Greenpeace. They're the Animal Liberation Front of the sea.

Paul Watson is not qualified to be any sort of captain. This man was expelled from Greenpeace because he did not share their views about nonviolent protests. This is a ridiculous man who has been quoted as saying, and I apologize for paraphrasing as I can't locate the quote right now, that the deaths of a few hunters is justified and outweighed by the greater number of seal lives that will be saved. Forgive me, also, if you agree with him on that. And if you agree with the ALF. Oh and fuck you, too.

Maybe it's because there are a lot of fans of the related TV show, but there is an awful lot of praise going on here without much thought. I am completely opposed to the hunting of endangered species. I know that this "whale research" argument on behalf of the Japanese is complete and utter crap. But what happened to the lovely MeFites that I remember that would jump at opportunities like this to subvert the good guys and make you actually think about the issue a bit differently?

I've donated to Greenpeace. I am a staunch, maybe even extreme liberal. But reading some of these posts reminds me of a Republican Vegan couple that I met when I was living in Miami. Just like the kind of confused liberals that would never vote for Obama because he would be too weak militarily, simply because he suggested that diplomacy and talks with anti-American governments was far superior to the use of force or "action" to make yourself understood.

There is nothing I hate so much as unquestioning religious zeal.
posted by donttouchmymustache at 2:34 AM on January 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why isn't it okay? What makes whales special that we shouldn't hunt them, compared to something like a tuna or a swordfish?

First of all, many people would say that it isn't okay to hunt tuna or swordfish, both of which are being overfished by the same sort of commercial enterprises that are endangering so many whales.

But the major arguments specifically against whale hunts are outlined in the Wikipedia Whaling article. As with any complex issue, the people on either side have various opinions.

Some arguments I've seen (and probably no one agrees with all of them, so don't start complaining if some of them seem contradictory to you): Etc. I'm probably missing some. If you honestly want to know the arguments, you ought to go elsewhere and read about them. I'm no spokesman for the anti-whaling movement or any other movement.
posted by pracowity at 4:54 AM on January 7, 2010


Claims that Japanese whalers have chartered planes to 'spy' on the Sea Shepherd boats, paid for by a New Zealand PR rep.
posted by harriet vane at 5:50 AM on January 7, 2010


After thinking about this a bit more, I've broken down exactly why I think the Sea Shepards are entirely useless.

As a slight aside before delving deeper, there seem to be arguments here about their anti-whaling methods that are analogous to anti-abortion methods. They seem to consider it an absolute travesty, yet refrain from using violent force that they claim their opponents are using.

Given their beliefs, and their opponents strength, the Sea Shepards have a number of options in front of them:

1) Violent interference and Deadly sabotage. The arguments against this can either be a) it is immoral (just as most anti-abortionists are against murder) and they either disagree with the method, or realize they will lose popular support, or b) their movement will be quickly extinguished by any government seeking charges. This would require relatively few number of people, but some expertise in both the methods of assault and evasion.

2) Non-violent interference. What they are largely doing now. Hassle the boats such that they cannot efficiently work. This too requires expertise, but not as much as above. Ideally, they would not do anything that would garner interference from a government, which would reduce their resources and expertise. They would also need to successfully evade the opposition's countermeasures to maintain their force.

3) Passive obstruction. Sit in boats around the opposition, without any violence towards them. This requires a large number of people, and a supportive government to protect them or shut down the opposition, should they turn violent. Not a lot of expertise needed here, aside from the organizers. The people are meant to be fodder, essentially, to bring the wrath of popular opinion and the force of the government against the opposition.

4) Government advocacy. Change the opinion of the Japanese government to halt the whaling. As outlined by PsychoKick that twirlypen copied above.

Now, besides #3 and #4, these methods cannot be used together. #1 risks the ire of governments, #2 wants them non-involved in the conflict, #3 and #4 want their support. #1 needs a small dedicated force that cannot be infiltrated, #2 needs a larger force that know their limits and expectations, #3 needs a large number of supporters, #4 needs well-connected negotiators.

The Sea Shepard people somehow conflate all of these. Especially #2 and #3. You cannot simultaneously aggravate a larger opponent, and claim surprise when there is retaliation. The news releases all appeal to the public as if they were using method #3. In fact, given the show, the public support is clearly part of their plan. But they will not enjoy general public support if they are instigating every clash. They will get more support from the partisan anti-whaling crowd, but that's not necessarily a win. In fact, given how quickly they point to every retaliation from the Japanese, they clearly think of themselves more in the #3 category. But they don't have enough personnel to instigate a conflict that way, so they moved to the #2 method.

In summary -- I think they are idiots who don't understand the battle they are trying to fight. They took an amalgam of methods they saw that were used before by Greenpeace and ELF and mishmashed them together. I can completely understand why Watson would be kicked out of any board -- he simply doesn't understand strategy, and certainly wouldn't understand people who don't entirely agree with him already.
posted by FuManchu at 7:04 AM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


No link but Paul Watson said in an interview with Australian morning TV that as they were towing the Ady Gil in the weather picked up & the Ady Gil took on water & sank completely. They did manage to retrieve the fuel & oil beforehand to limit the environmental damage.
posted by scalefree at 6:53 PM on January 7, 2010


Interesting breakdown, but I fail to see where Sea Shepherd is engaged in anything except #2, at least in the Southern Ocean campaigns. (Yes, Watson has rammed ships in the past, but only with extensive advance warning.) Greenpeace used to do #3, and claim to be doing #4, although I don't see any evidence of it. In fact, Greenpeace are actually complaining about PM Paul Rudd's threats to enforce Australian sovereignty in the Southern Ocean.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:07 PM on January 7, 2010


Ha. I don't think warning someone makes it non-violent.
posted by smackfu at 6:20 AM on January 8, 2010


Rachel Maddow interviews Bob Barker.
posted by scalefree at 7:17 AM on January 8, 2010


Paul Watson on the sinking of the Ady Gil. (mp3)
posted by scalefree at 7:39 AM on January 8, 2010


Terri Irwin on why whaling must be stopped.
Zoo wildlife warrior Terri Irwin says commercial whaling should be likened to cannibalism or slavery and yesterday gave her approval to violent protests to stop the hunt.
posted by scalefree at 7:48 AM on January 8, 2010


Ady Gil abandoned and leaking oil

JAPANESE authorities have criticised the environmental activist group Sea Shepherd for abandoning a vessel at sea, apparently leaking fuel and debris.

The Ady Gil was crippled in a collision with a Japanese whaling ship in the Southern Ocean on Wednesday.

Sea Shepherd spokespeople have repeatedly claimed the boat had sunk, and today the activist group abandoned the scene.

But Japanese authorities have released photographs which show the Ady Gil wreckage is still afloat in pristine Antarctic waters.


Whale War Whips up a Perfect Storm

Sea Shepherd's hardline tactics have led to trouble in the Antarctic before. In 2007, two activists were forced to huddle in a dinghy with a cracked hull for eight hours after it hit the whale factory ship Nisshin Maru. The following year another two were held for several days on a Japanese chaser ship they boarded.

There have been other collisions between the Steve Irwin and Japanese ships. In early 2009, the Steve Irwin locked its bow onto the deck of the whale chaser Yushin Maru No. 2, causing both to tilt alarmingly.

The whalers also have been willing to out-muscle protesters. Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise was hit bow-on by a fast-turning Nisshin Maru in 2006.


We won't be stopped, says Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson says that is just not possible.

"We're not going to restrain ourselves from protecting these whales and we're not going to restrain ourselves from upholding international conservation law," he said.

"The Government has shown so much restraint over the years they have done absolutely nothing."

Sea Shepherd says it will continue to chase Japanese harpoon ships in the Southern Ocean.

...

Meanwhile the Federal Government this afternoon renewed its threat to launch an international legal challenge against whaling if negotiations with Tokyo stall.

"The ultimate resolution of whaling is going to be through diplomacy or legal action, not on the high seas," she said.

"We are pursuing diplomacy with all of our force. We have made it absolutely clear we are not ruling out taking international legal action."

posted by Comrade_robot at 8:13 AM on January 8, 2010


Interview with Chuck Swift, Captain of the SSCS Bob Barker.
Did the Shonan Maru No. 2 offer any assistance whatsoever to anyone there after the collision?

No. In fact the Ady Gil, when it was hit, sent out a Mayday. We weren't sure how quickly it was going to sink, and they [the crew] weren't either. I was watching from the bridge of this vessel and so he [Ady Gil Captain Pete Bethune] got off his radio. He was standing up off the back abd we turned around, launched small boats, and went and started getting them. My First Officer and myself both immediately took up the Mayday and continued broadcasting on their behalf. The Japanese fleet had two vessels right next to us at that time and it took ten minutes of our contacting them and saying "Do you understand the situation we are in -- do you understand the difference between our throwing stink bombs onto your vessel and your running over one of ours and endangering human life? Do you understand the significance and will you now answer our Mayday?" It took ten minutes of kind of yelling into the radio to get any response and according to maritime law they are required to reply and offer assistance. The only answer we ever really got was "Yes." They acknowledged the Mayday.

The ships continued on course and made no effort to assist?

They stopped near us. That same vessel that ran us over, the Shonan Maru No. 2 is still tailing us, in fact. We suspected that they had two vessels on us because they anticipate our possible meeting with the Steve Irwin (SSCS flagship) and they would have a tail for us and a tail for them. But they are still following us as we are now underway.
posted by scalefree at 1:08 PM on January 8, 2010


The final moments of the Ady Gil.
posted by scalefree at 1:17 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Interesting how they didn't seem to think it was going to hit them until 5-10 seconds before the collision.
posted by smackfu at 1:29 PM on January 8, 2010


Interesting how they didn't seem to think it was going to hit them until 5-10 seconds before the collision.
posted by smackfu at 1:29 PM on January 8, 2010


Ady Gil blame game


The translator a member of the Australia-Japan Society who has often undertaken translation work for the Federal Government said the crewman says: "Okay, okay, okay, contact just made now.

"The Ady Gil approached the front of the Shonan Maru and the Ady Gil made contact. The Ady Gil moved out in front of the Shonan Maru and made contact."

The speaker continues: "The Shonan Maru collided, obstructed the direction [of the Shonan Maru] and the Ady Gil made contact."
...


"I looked at the video and it is firstly clear they are putting themselves in danger and it appears that the Ady Gil was putting itself deliberately in front of the whale catcher to try and make it alter course," Mr MacMillan said.

"You can see the Japanese ship trying to turn to port [left] to try and avoid the Ady Gil on their starboard side.

"The Ady Gil are then putting themselves directly in the way of the whale catcher to frustrate them and change their course.

"It then appears the Ady Gil left it too late to escape."

Mr MacMillan said the vessel required to give way, the port vessel, should alter course by turning to port, slowing down or completing a full circle to port to avoid a collision.

"But it is hard to be taking those actions when the vessel you are giving way to is deliberately trying to frustrate you," he said.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has announced it will conduct an investigation into the crash.

posted by Comrade_robot at 2:11 PM on January 8, 2010


scalefree's video from the deck of the Ady Gil is quite damning against the Japanese ship and its version of the events. The anti-whalers are basically just floating in the water and shooting the breeze about the days events. Then the Japanese ship, which came from far behind them, lights them up with the LRAD and then runs them over.

Who knows what the Ady Gil did to the Japanese ship prior to this event. But that video pretty much lays to rest any claim that the Ady Gil was somehow trying to ram the Japanese ship when it got run over.
posted by jsonic at 4:50 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


It also torpedo's the idea that the Ady Gil was even trying to mess with the Japanese ship at all at the time it was run over.
posted by jsonic at 4:58 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh come off it jsonic, the poor innocent sea shepherds. OF COURSE they were trying to mess with the japanese ship, isn't precisely why they happened to be sitting in that small patch of sea a long way away from anywhere?
posted by wilful at 4:04 PM on January 9, 2010


Yes in a general sense the Ady Gil was engaged in harassing the whalers. But if you view the video I posted you'll see the crew had no intentions of blocking or interfering with the Shonan Maru 2 at the time of impact. Until the very last second they were quite relaxed, joking & laughing amongst themselves. The Shonan Maru 2 (which is actually a "security" ship assigned to the whalers by the Japanese government), on the other hand, clearly meant to ram the Ady Gil and it succeeded. And after this deliberate attack they offered no assistance even though they acknowledged the Mayday signal put out by the Sea Shepherds. Although they engage in direct action Sea Shepherd has always maintained a policy of nonlethality to their campaign tactics. The whalers have shown they'll abide by no such limits in their response.
posted by scalefree at 5:40 PM on January 9, 2010


I don't know much about sailing, but I do know that when you've just had a major "accident" like that, you don't continue to spray the other party with water canons, you offer assistance.

Also, you don't just ram a ship because of right of way. You should always try to avoid a collision, even if the other party isn't obeying the rules. That's how it works for driving a car and I'd be surprised if it's any different for a ship. You certainly don't steer towards the boat in the wrong to prove a point.

Say what you will about the Sea Shepherd's tactics, it doesn't excuse how the whalers behaved here.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 8:07 PM on January 9, 2010


A Reporter At Large: Neptune's Navy

Around 6 A.M., the Hunter pulled alongside the Nisshin Maru. The whaling ship blasted its horns and turned on its water cannons, which sent powerful jets overboard. The two ships were close enough to collide, but Watson had instructed Cornelissen to delay the ship, not to ram it. On the Hunter’s deck, crew members dressed in black uniforms, their faces covered by masks, began throwing cannisters of butyric acid—a relatively harmless substance that smells like rancid butter—and smoke bombs onto the Nisshin Maru’s deck. At the waterline, motorized dinghies called Zodiacs arced around the whaler. Most of the Zodiacs had come from the Farley, which was not yet in visible range. Their crews carried cameras and prop-foulers—long knotted coils of polypropylene—which they hoped would get entangled in the Nisshin Maru’s propellers. Other Zodiac crews were equipped with nail guns. They drew the dinghies beside the Nisshin Maru and nailed shut scuppers through which whale blood was released into the ocean. As the confrontation went on, the temperature dropped. Waves surged, and snow, driven by shifting winds, hit the ships at wild angles.

One of the Farley’s Zodiacs disappeared in the storm. Its crew, Karl Neilsen and John Gravois, did not respond to radio calls. Watson stood against the back wall of the bridge, near an old brass pilot wheel, and bit his upper lip. “What?” he said in disbelief to Monteiro. Referring to Neilsen, the Zodiac’s pilot, he asked, “He doesn’t have flares? I don’t know why he doesn’t have flares.” As the Farley began to search for the missing boat, Watson grabbed several flares, went to a bridge wing, and fired them into the air. Their light barely penetrated the fog and snow. He faced a difficult decision. Several miles away, the Hunter was harassing the Nisshin Maru, and if he ordered it to join the search for the Zodiac it would not reach the whaler again. He decided that the Hunter should stay on course. “A lot of people were freaking out,” he recalled. “But the problem was that I didn’t want the Japanese fleet to get away.” Cornelissen was having trouble keeping up with the Nisshin Maru, which could move faster than the Hunter in rough seas, and after several hours he decided to disobey Watson’s order and join the search. Watson issued a distress call on the radio, and, moments later, the captain of the Nisshin Maru responded, asking how he could help.


...

s the Hunter and the Kaiko Maru negotiated the floes, they smashed into each other. The Hunter tilted port, at an angle close to thirty degrees, and veered into a block of pack ice; the impact caused some structural damage to the hull. The Kaiko Maru blasted a looped recording, in English, through loudspeakers on its bridge: “Warning! Warning! This is the Kaiko Maru’s captain. Stop your obstructive actions immediately. If you dare to board this vessel, you will be taken into custody and restrained as illegal intruders under Japanese law.” The Sea Shepherd crew hurled smoke bombs onto the Kaiko Maru’s deck, which soon was covered by an orange cloud. Prop-foulers were again deployed, and one became tangled in the Kaiko Maru’s propeller. Sea Shepherd’s helicopter, equipped with a film crew, made low-flying passes. When the Farley arrived, Watson radioed the Hunter and said, “Let’s see if we can keep them bottled up.” He maneuvered the Farley to the other side of the whaler. The Kaiko Maru’s captain, in an attempt to free his ship, scraped the Hunter, issued a distress call, and complained that his propeller was vibrating in an unusual way. Then, having exhausted all other options, he began to take orders from Watson’s crew, which had confined his ship to a tight circle. Watson offered to send a diver into the water to examine the damaged propeller. “Don’t need your diver,” an officer on the Kaiko Maru insisted. “O.K.? Understand?”

posted by Comrade_robot at 6:50 AM on January 10, 2010


Another video from the Japanese ship showing the Ady Gil accelerating into the impact.
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:53 AM on January 21, 2010


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